Monday, January 30, 2006

Sermon for the 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany, January 20, 2006

In the name of the God the Creator, Jesus the Liberator, and the Holy Spirit the Sustainer. AMEN.
Try to imagine placing yourself in Simon, Andrew, James, or John’s shoes for a moment. For me this is very hard to do because I assume that they must be insane.
For day after day, month after month, mind numbing year after year they do the same thing. They fish. The don’t do it for pleasure. They don’t do it for a relaxing day at sea. They don’t do catch and release. For them fishing puts food on the table. It is their job. So when we imagine them we can’t imagine a sport fisherman or woman, all rigged out in the latest sporting gear, clean cut, smelling nice, out for a relaxing day of fishing with a cooler.
No, the more appropriate picture in our mind should be the hardworking fisherman or woman. The kind of people we see at the fish docks unloading a hard earned catch. Dirty, unkempt, smelly. That is the picture of these future saints. These are not pie in the sky kinds of people prone to fanciful flights from reality. They are the sale of the earth, predictable types. Sort of like I like to think of as myself.
But I’m still let with the question about these men. Were they crazy? What would induce them to leave everything they had – little that it was admittedly – to follow this total stranger named Jesus.
The only thing Jesus offers them is to make them fishers of men. How utterly impractical. This does not sound to me like the kind of job that will put food on the table. This does not sound like the kind of job that would support a family.
But each one chooses to follow. Each of them drops what they are doing and follow. No comments. No apparent concerns. Just a willingness to follow Jesus.
They left all they knew. They left all that was know to them for the unknown of Jesus. What caused these practical, down to earth people to do this? How would we react, how would I react, if one day, while hard at work someone asked me to leave all that was familiar and known and follow him. It is very hard for me to imagine doing this. And I would imagine that it would have been hard for Simon, Andrew, James, and John to image ever doing it as well. And yet, at that moment in time, they did.
The hardest part for me about this story is the realization that Jesus still calls me today. He calls me to follow him. And as I look at this story I’m quite frankly fearful. What if Jesus were to call to me to leave all that was familiar? When Jesus calls me will I be up to the challenge? Will I be able to respond like these fishermen? Or will I be too worried about what I have to give up and how I will put food on the table.
I think that in the moment Jesus spoke to Andrew, Simon, James, and John each of them heard the call of God. Jesus spoke to them in a place deeper than had ever been touched. Jesus spoke to them in a place they may not even known to have existed. That is why they followed him. In the voice of Jesus, God spoke in each of their hearts.
You never know when that day will come. Certainly these followers of Jesus didn’t expect it. The call from Jesus can some when we are in the middle of a hard days work. It can come when we are fast asleep like it did for Samuel. It can come at inconvenient times.
Our challenge is to hear it. We have so much going on in our world today that I wonder if we drown out the voice of God in our lives. Rushing from meeting to meeting. Worrying about playing the bills. Worrying about putting food on the table. Worrying about where we live and how we live.
Our goal is obvious. We must clear our mind, and more importantly, our heart to hear the voice of God speaking to us.

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